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Super-rich Swiss village agrees to accommodate refugee family after months of opposition

Town council also agrees to make sizeable donation to refugee charity

Gabriel Samuels
Tuesday 29 November 2016 17:52 GMT
Oberwil-Lieli has 300 millionaires among a population of 2,200
Oberwil-Lieli has 300 millionaires among a population of 2,200 (Google Maps)

A Swiss village which declared it would pay thousands of euros to deny asylum to refugees has reversed its decision and agreed to host a family from Syria.

After months of resistance, the council of Oberwil-Lieli in north Switzerland announced it was willing to accommodate a family of five refugees and provide them with welfare benefits.

In May, the village declared it would rather pay a $300,000 fine than allow any refugees to live among its residents. The council is now asking locals to come forward if they are able to offer accomodation.

At the time, one resident of the village told MailOnline: “We do not want them here it is as simple as that. We have worked hard all our lives and have a lovely village that we do not want it spoiled. We are not suited to take in refugees. They would not fit in here.”

The reason for the unexpected u-turn is currently unconfirmed, although Swiss media have linked it to a recent visit by right-wing council leader Andreas Glarner to refugee camps in Greece.

Earlier in the year, authorities in the Swiss canton of Aargau, in which Oberwil-Lieli lies, declared every village should accept at least 10 refugees. Mr Glarner and the council initially rejected the quota, and will now only agree to accommodate half that number.

The decision was agreed unanimously during a town meeting for residents, and the council additionally agreed to donate 50,000 Swiss francs (£39,400) to a charity assisting refugees in Turkey and Greece.

Oberwil-Lieli is a wealthy municipality in which counts as many as 300 millionaires among its residents. It currently has a population of around 2,200 people.

The town authorities own one apartment but it will not be free until July 1 next year, and no residents have so far responded to the council’s call for aid in sheltering the refugee family.

In April 2016 there were 1,748 applications for asylum in Switzerland compared to 1,376 for the same month the previous year.

In the early summer, the Swiss Government pledged to resettle 3,000 Syrian families fleeing Isis and the civil war in the country.

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